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Perceived Health Outcomes of Mountain Bikers: A National Demographic Inquiry

Eddie Hill, Edwin Gómez

Abstract


Given the International Mountain Bike Association’s growing membership, mountain biking popularity, and industry growth, it is important to explore perceived health benefits and outcomes derived from the sport of mountain biking. Mountain biking is currently one of the fastest growing recreational activities in the world, but empirical documentation regarding outcomes from participation is limited. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceived health outcomes of mountain biking as they relate to different demographic groups in the United States. Data were collected using the Perceived Heath Outcomes of Recreation Scale, which measured recreation outcomes in terms of prevention, improvement, and psychological benefits from recreation participation in mountain biking. Results from this national study explored differences according to gender, age, membership, and regions. Findings suggest that women perceived higher psychological health outcomes, and men perceived higher health outcomes related to prevention. Older riders significantly perceived prevention-based health outcomes from mountain biking than their younger counterparts. No differences were found between prevention, psychological, and improvement outcomes related to membership. Regional analysis revealed a homogenous view of health outcomes from mountain bikers across the U.S. Land managers, outdoor advocacy groups, and commercial outfitters could use this research to promote the health benefits of mountain biking. Interestingly, and noteworthy from a public health perspective, mountain bikers who ride twice monthly, or every day, perceived similar outcomes. This provides support for the notion that mountain biking, even when participating with less frequency, bodes well as a possible recreation activity to address some of the challenges our society faces regarding unhealthy lifestyles. Recreation professionals could advocate for an alternative form of physical activity by introducing mountain biking to new audiences, while articulating the possible health benefits achieved from participation. This study may be useful to outdoor recreation programmers and public land use managers to better understand participants on park trails; and to allow for better recognition of benefits resulting from mountain biking on trails. 

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Keywords


perceived health outcomes; recreation benefits; mountain biking; management

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18666/JPRA-2019-9492

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